If your business runs on an appointment basis, no-shows can make a big dent in your bottom line. Sending email reminders is one way to stay top-of-mind, but it’s not always the best way to communicate with someone who is on the move or to notify someone about a looming appointment.
The best way, instead, is through the devices almost everyone carries with them constantly: cell phones. SMS or text message notifications are highly effective. In fact, 95% of text messages are read within three minutes of receipt, and 98% of SMS messages in general are read compared to 22% of emails. Adding automated, two-way text reminders in your business can make a big difference.If you’re an ONTRAPORT user, read on for specific steps for implementing this in your account.
How To Send Appointment Reminders and Receive Confirmations Via Text Message
Sending a one-way notification via SMS is great, but two-way capabilities are even better: They allow attendees to respond and confirm their attendance. That leads to fewer no-shows, saving you wasted time, energy and money.
This versatile function is built into ONTRAPORT and can be used for things such as recurring notifications for weekly scheduled calls, team sports events and one-off appointments.
For this example, the appointments are scheduled manually. Here is the basic system framework:
Set up two custom fields for your contacts:
- Appointment Date
- Appointment Time
Create your text message content. Here’s some sample content for your first SMS message:
“Hi [First Name], this is a reminder from [biz name] for your appointment today at [Appointment Time]. Reply “Y” if you’ll be attending or “N” if you need to reschedule, and we’ll be in contact shortly.
Create a date sequence with an SMS step that will fire the morning of your appointment, using the SMS content mentioned above.
Create two global rules to set up the automated response from you to your contact after the contact responds to cancel or confirm the appointment. The global rule is triggered by a contact’s SMS response and will send the appropriate SMS follow-up along with any additional automation you may have added:
Global Rule 1: Contact confirmation
When this happens: SMS received from contact on [SMS Number]
If this is true: SMS contains “Y”
Then do this: Send a [Confirmed Appt Follow up SMS] on [SMS Number]
Global Rule 2: Contact cancellation
When this happens: SMS Received from contact on [SMS Number]
If this is true: SMS contains “N”
Then do this: Send a [Cancelled Appt Follow up SMS] on [SMS Number] AND Add a task [Reschedule Appt Task]
The two SMS messages [Cancelled Appt Follow up SMS] and [Confirmed Appt Follow up SMS] are both confirmation messages telling your contact that their response was received and what’s next to come.
Create the task message [Reschedule Appt Task] for follow-up:
If part of your process is for an employee to follow up with a phone call to the contact, you can add a task into your automation to remind that employee to do so. In the notification, include all the necessary information using merge fields in the task body so that this task can be completed without logging in to ONTRAPORT. Here’s some sample content for your task message:
Task Subject: [First Name] Needs to reschedule – call them and get it set up!
Task Body: [First Name] [Last Name] let us know that they need to reschedule their appointment. Call them at [Phone Number] to reschedule a better time.
Name: [First Name] [Last Name]
Phone #: [Phone Number]
Appointment Date: [Appointment Date]
Appointment Time: [Appointment Time]
You can also include a form with relevant fields to be filled on task completion so that you can reschedule the appointment right there on the task.
Next, you can include three task outcomes:
- Rescheduled: You can enter the new appointment date and time on the form.
- Doesn’t want to reschedule: This should count as a lost lead.
- Can’t reach: Plan to follow up with this lead.
Applying Text Message to Other Marketing Processes
This basic framework can be adapted and added to depending on your own internal business processes. For example, automation can be added to each task outcome to incorporate follow-up processes, while global rule triggers and actions can be adapted to third-party calendar integrations. You can also include additional actions to update specific contact fields to meet group criteria for easy access of daily/weekly appointments.
In addition to appointments, you can also use SMS in your business to provide:
- Customer Service
For more information on setting up an SMS campaign in ONTRAPORT, check out this detailed article in our forum. Check out our infographic for more about the importance of SMS in your business, and for a comprehensive overview, download our Demystifying SMS guide.